Blindsight by Peter Watts
|Of Readercon this summer past, one of my enduring memories was of one particular author I had never before heard of speaking to one and all (anyone who would listen, truly) of how much he hated the cover art to his forthcoming novel. But just as this was no man to suffer in silence, Peter Watts had also gone so far as to create alternate covers for people who may (or may not, I suppose) feel inclined to purchase his novel at some later date.|
This was undoubtedly a man who cared about his novel, but in truth, I quite unreservedly deemed him a nut job.
Blindsight is Tip-Of-The-Spear science fiction. It's not an easy read and it's not intended to be. At times I felt not quite smart enough to be reading it, as I've felt before when reading such prominents as Cory Doctorow and R. Scott Bakker.
It's a first contact novel, but the aliens are very much ourselves. In that, I should say, the human beings are beyond recognizable as such today. Our narrator has suffered a lobotomy of staggering proportions, but remains quite the genius -- sans all ability to feel emotion of any sort.
Oh, and there are Vampires.
I don't particularly know how much I enjoyed this novel, but I was immersed and blown away by the most fundamental of all science fiction tropes -- the big ideas. I'm thinking, and I can't stop, and that is an incredibly successful work of art. This is the one we've been waiting for; the novel that finally cements Charlie Stross as the science fiction author of this generation. Except for the simple fact that he did not write it..... One Peter Watts did.
And I'll never be caught offguard by a nameless, excitable science fiction author named Watts again. He may just be a nutjob in truth, but he's also an incredibly gifted author. And now I want one of those alternate covers. My collector's heart yearns for it.
Oh, and I called Spin, for those not keeping score. I am jumping the gun and calling Blindsight for next years big one -- the Hugo Award for Best Novel -- before it's even nominated.
Science Fiction is not dead. It just had half of it's brain cut out.
Jump on board, people. Buy this novel, and buy it in hardcover. I believe you can buy a copy with one or more of the alternate covers from Clarkesworld Books. (Who, might I add, somehow knew how important and good and nougatty this novel was going to be months and months ago.)
At Rifters.com, you can get an immersive background on this and all of Watts' novels.